Rebekah Wade Brooks was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Nigel Carrington the Rector of University of the Arts, London, on behalf of UAL, in the summer of 2010. When this honour was bestowed her reputation was not tainted by the allegations that have emerged in the last week. If these allegations are true and Ms Wade Brooks had any involvement in the phone hacking and bribing of officers from the Metropolitan Police, then the honor should be removed by the university. A group of concerned UAL students,staff and members of the public have signed the petition which was set up through a Facebook page. It also has come to light that the local branch of the lecturers’ union, the University and College Union (UCU) wrote to Rector Nigel Carrington calling for the award to be revoked. Chair of UCU Gary Horne said the call for the honorary fellowship to be withdrawn was “based on the reaction from staff and the general public to the reprehensible and repugnant activities recently detailed about the activities of the News of the World and some of its journalists.”Horne, who has previously worked for First Tuesday at ITV and BBC’s Panorama, is course director of the MA in Journalism and was recently elected a governor at the University of the Arts London (UAL), of which the LCC is part. He added: “This was a culture that was presided over by Rebekah Brooks (Wade) when she was editor and as many have already stated she should take responsibility for this.” He said the concern among staff at the long-established college is that the association could tarnish its reputation.”We run our own highly successful journalism courses which embody clear public service values and teaches young students to practice all the journalism ethical codes of conduct,” Horne added. Honorary degrees should only be presented to role models for a younger generation of student/artists. It is an aspirational gesture reserved only for an elite proving the highest degree of integrity. Many now feel that this was a misjudgment by UAL and grossly inappropriate for a liberal university. Recent revelations about the immoral, unethical and criminal activities taking place at the NoW under her stewardship and watch make it essential that this honour is withdrawn immediately.
Brooks was born in 1968 and attended Appleton Hall County Grammar school. She began her journalistic career at Messenger Newspapers in Warrington, while still at school and returned after completing her A-levels. She went on to study Journalism at the London College of Printing (now London College of Communication and part of the University of the Arts). Brooks was promoted to the job of chief executive of News International after six years as editor of The Sun. Before that she was editor of the News of the World for three years. it is from this period that the present allegations have been raised. She has been married twice, first to EastEnders actor Ross Kemp; and now to former racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks. Rebekah was notoriously arrested after a row with her first husband, Ross Kemp and held for eight hours before she was released, without charge. Wade later dismissed the incident as an argument that got out of hand. The Guardian states,”Wade’s fury and despair at missing a story can be keenly felt by staff, a trait that Murdoch may also admire. She once airily recalled coming into work and throwing a heavy object, possibly an ashtray, at the news desk when the Mirror published a particularly impressive exclusive”. That singularity of purpose, allied to her thinly disguised ambition, means that Wade has not always endeared herself to employees. All of this aside Wade Brooks will now have to decide to do the right thing by resigning her post as Chief Executive at News International.
A group has been formed with a petition on facebook which calls for UAL to withdraw her fellowship.
Photo: Nigel Carrington, rector of University of the Arts with Rebekah Wade Brooks